Everyone doodles, but only Alan Hamel had the foresight to turn those little renderings into something that would benefit an organization that has no boundaries: the Desert AIDS Project.
According to author, entertainer, and beloved valley resident Suzanne Somers, who also happens to be Mr. Hamel’s wife of 43 years, “Alan doodles all the time.” A while back he decided to compile his doodles into Doodle Master, a book benefiting DAP, which has since evolved into a celebrity doodle auction event.
This year’s Celebrity Doodles event began Friday with a VIP pre-party hosted at Art-Style-Innovation by owners Larry Abel and Raymond McCallister. Celebrities and guests mingled, checking doodles on display, and hoping to win one of the many great donated door prizes which included a case of Manilow Pinot Grigio and a ThighMaster.
Saturday’s Gala at the gorgeous historic O’Donnell Estate, set atop a mountain in Palm Springs was a star-studded event appropriately held under the stars. I’ve never seen a more magnificent view of the Coachella Valley and could easily nest up there forever.
Talented Saif Eddin Bayati played piano beautifully, while guests enjoyed food and libations. More delicious Manilow Pinot Grigio flowed freely (yes, it is Barry Manilow’s line of wine). There were enough decadent goodies from Godiva to put this chocoholic into a happy sugar shock. Organizers, Peter Konstantine and Mark Messenger–I am now in love with Mr. Messenger’s parents– and Peter Demopoulos worked tirelessly to make the evening magical and memorable.
The exceptional entertainment, hosted by award winning TV personality and comedian extraordinaire Scott Nevins, included fabulous performances by Erin Quill of the original Broadway cast of Avenue Q, singer and star of All My Children’s Bobbie Eakes, and Tony award-winner for The Secret Garden, Daisy Eagan. There were also special appearances by All My Children’s Vincent Irizarry, Walt Willey, Jacob Young, Extreme Makeover Home Edition’s Eduardo Xol, Housewives of Orange County’s Gretchen Rossi and Slade Smiley, and many others. My cool factor went way up telling my kids I’d shared a table with actress Estelle Harris, aka Mrs. Potato Head from Toy Story!
With no roof to blow off, I’ve no doubt the sky was shaking as the incomparable Lorna Luft who, despite unexpected winds, wowed us with a dynamic and powerful rendition of “San Francisco.” That lady can sing! Earlier that day, Ms. Luft led a tour of The Desert AIDS Project, which regretfully I had to miss.
Mr. Nevins added just the right amount of wit and charm as guests generously bid on doodles in support of DAP, making the auction fun, exciting, and hopefully a huge success. The doodle art was incredible: there were pieces by Rosie O’Donnell, Lily Tomlin, Slade, Erin Quill, Edwardo, Suzanne Somers, Estelle Harris, Alan Hamel (his doodles were showcased on a large, glass-encased ostrich egg), and Barry Manilow (who contributed a doodled heart and signed, handwritten sheet music for his song, “One Voice”)
The Desert AIDS Project offers tremendous help and support for those in the Coachella Valley with the HIV/AIDS virus and continually fights for awareness, education, and testing, and when there’s an event to benefit them, it will certainly be one you’ll enjoy completely.
Watch SuzanneSomers.com for news about volume two of Doodle Master, in print soon with proceeds being donated to charity.